October 27, 2011. BRYAN WALSH | Why Coke Is Going White for Polar Bears

The 125-year-old Coca-Cola Company doesn't like to mess with its brand image. That's in part because it's so valuable — according to Interbrand Coke has the best brand in the world — but also because previous efforts to tweak its image haven't always worked out so well, and sometimes lead to things like this.

So perhaps it's a measure of the company's dedication to the environment that Coca-Cola has decided to change the color of its iconic cans for the holiday season — white, to draw attention to the plight of the polar bear. Coke and the environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have joined together to promote the Arctic Home project, which will involve turning 1.4 billion Coke cans white, emblazoned with the image of a mother polar bear and her cubs pawing through the Arctic. There will also be white bottle caps on other Coke branded drinks, all running from the beginning of November to February. "In 125 years we've never changed the color of the Coke can," says Katie Bayne, president and GM of Coca-Cola Sparking Beverages. "We really see this as a bold gesture." (See the top 10 bad beverage ideas.)

Bold gestures are exactly what the polar bears needs. There's a reason the planet's largest land carnivores have emerged as the symbols of climate change — perhaps no species is more directly impacted by warming temperatures than the polar bear. They depend on Arctic sea ice as a major habitat and hunting ground, but sea ice is vanishing rapidly, shrinking to its second-lowest level on record this past summer. As the ice melts, polar bears are forced to swim further and further for food — and some, especially young cubs, simply won't make it. "We're watching the ice shrink in front of our eyes, and if there is no ice, there are no bears," says Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of WWF. "The polar bears need our help."

One way to help them, of course, is to reduce carbon emissions and blunt the worst effects of global warming. That's ... not really happening all that quickly. So that leaves adaptation, which for polar bears means locating the areas of Arctic sea ice that might be less vulnerable to warming. That's exactly what WWF is trying to do, identifying the Last Ice area that may remain solid long after other areas of the Arctic have melted. The group is working with Canadian government and the local Inuit community to create a kind of climate refuge in the Last Ice capable of supporting polar bears for decades into the future. "We aren't creating the Last Ice area — climate change is," says Geoff York, the WWF's polar bear expert. "We just want to make sure that the conditions are there to support the polar bears and the people who will be living with them." (See pictures of Germany's Latest Polar Bear Celebrity.)
That's going to take a lot of research — York points out that the high Arctic area is "one of the least understood places on Earth" — and that research is going to cost money, potentially as much as $10 million. (It's not cheap operating in the remote ice.) That's where Coke comes in. The company — which has used polar bears in its holiday ads for decades — is donating $2 million to WWF, and will match consumer donations through March 15 up to $1 million. Individuals will be able to text donations at a dollar apiece to 357357, or donate online at "Coke has made a kind of foundational commitment that has never before been seen in our history," says Roberts. "They're taking their biggest promotional season and dedicating it to this cause."
It'll take a lot more than soda to save the polar bears, which are already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But a little highly carbonated holiday cheer won't hurt.

Oct. 21, 2011. DAVID KERLEY (@David_Kerley) AND CHRISTINA CARON (@cdcaron)
Terry Thompson, the Zanesville man who set his exotic animals loose before killing himself, owed almost $70,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS and the county.

The wild animal enthusiast had two federal tax liens filed against him last year, according to the Associated Press, and other well-documented woes, including prison time, animal abuse charges and marital problems, offering new insight into what could have driven Thompson to commit suicide and send his beloved animals out to their deaths.

Dozens of animals, including Bengal tigers, lions, wolves, monkeys and bears were freed from the Zanesville, Ohio, animal preserve and had to be killed by police. Police stalked the animals through the night Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon, 49 of the 50 animals were confirmed dead, ending a potentially catastrophic threat to people in the area.

Three leopards, a grizzly bear and two Macaques were the only animals that survived, and they are at the Columbus Zoo, receiving around the clock care. According to zoo officials, the animals are "stressed," but eating, drinking, and playing with ball toys.

Preserve Owner's Wife Wants Surviving Animals Back

 Thompson's wife, Marian Thompson, visited the surviving animals, which she called "her children," on Thursday and desperately pleaded for their return.

"This is a person that's very bonded to the animals," said Tom Stalf, a zoo official who helped transport surviving animals to zoo. "She wanted to see them and make sure that they were doing OK, and she missed them."

Though she wants the surviving animals to be returned to her, zoo officials said they will continue to care for the animals, and leave it up to the sheriff's department to decide if the animals will go home, to another facility, or remain at the zoo.

Marian Thompson, who shielded herself from reporters, told a zoo official that she is especially bonded with the surviving pair of primates. She revealed to Stalf that when she was still living at the farm the surviving female Macaque would sleep with her.

ABC News exclusively obtained images of Terry Thompson, trading kisses with a bear and caring for a camel on his farm just two years ago. The images of Thompson bonding with his animals stand in stark contrast to the chaos officials encountered when they arrived at Thompson's private preserve Tuesday evening. Stalf, who saw the dead animals sprawled across the lawn of the preserve and the conditions the animals were kept in, said the scene was haunting.

"I grew up on a farm so I've been around animals all my life and I've never seen that and I don't ever want to see that again," he said. "That was bad."

Photos of animals saved and animals slain in Zanesville. Some photos are graphic.

Police hunted down and killed the ferocious animals, set free by their suicidal owner.

According to police, just seconds after Thompson set his beloved animals free and shot himself with a handgun, an animal bit him in the head, and likely dragged him along the driveway where he was eventually found.

The bite wound on Terry Thompson's head was "consistent with the bite from a larger type cat," Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said.

Thompson's body was found near a pile of chicken parts. Lutz said Thompson often used chicken to feed the animals, but it's unclear whether he had intended to draw the animals to his body.
October 20, 2011. Exotic Animal Zanesville Carcasses Hunted by Exploiters Seeking Trophies. By CHRISTINA CARON (@cdcaron) People hoping to profit from the death of nearly 50 exotic animals that escaped from a farm in Zanesville, Ohio, after the preserve owner shot and killed himself, have been contacting the sheriff's office, interested in taking the animals to a taxidermist.

"We've gotten calls and e-mails about what [is] going to happen to the animals ... could they be obtained for these types of things," said Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz. "There's a lot of people who would pay a lot of money to get these animals."

But Lutz is cracking down.

The location of the 49 animals buried on the property has not been disclosed, Lutz said, adding, "Anybody caught on that property looking for it will be charged with criminal trespassing." Earlier this week officers stopped a group of people from stealing the dead body of a lion.

"They were taken into custody," Lutz said.

Marion Thompson, the widow of farm owner Terry Thompson, who was found dead in the driveway after shooting himself and setting his animals free, is now manning the property, watching out for thieves.

"Hopefully nobody would be that morbid that they will want to go to do that," said Lutz. "I can guarantee you one thing, if it does happen we will pursue them to the greatest length to charge them."

Thompson's wife, he said, is "very distraught" about the loss of her husband and animals, many of which "were like kids to her," Lutz said. "She probably spent more time with these animals than some parents do spend with their kids."

Farm Animals May Have Come from Auctions

Officers avoided a potentially catastrophic disaster, using pistols and high-powered rifles to take down nearly 50 of the dangerous animals. Only one animal remains unaccounted for -- a macaque monkey that Lutz says was probably eaten by a large cat.

It's unclear where preserve owner Terry Thompson found his menagerie of exotics.

"I've heard that some were rescues," Lutz said. "I've heard that some were bought at auction."  Officers didn't find any evidence that Thompson had been trying to breed them.
October 20. 2011. Ohio man who freed wild animals was deep in debt

Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Ann Sanner/ Associated Press
Zanesville, Ohio — The exotic-animal owner who killed himself after turning loose dozens of lions, tigers and other beasts was deep in debt, and a fellow big-cat enthusiast said Thursday he had taken in so many creatures that he was "in over his head." A day after sheriff's deputies with high-powered rifles killed nearly 50 animals set free by Terry Thompson, the sheriff refused to speculate why he did it. Many neighbors, meanwhile, were puzzled as to why Thompson — a man who seemed to like animals more than people — would lash out in a way that would doom his pets. However, court records show he and his wife owed at least $68,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS and the county, and he had two federal tax liens filed against him last year. He had just gotten out of federal prison last month for possessing unregistered weapons.

Kenny Hetrick, who has six tigers and other animals on his property outside Toledo, said he used to see Thompson at exotic-animal auctions a few times a year in Ohio. Many of Thompson's tigers had been donated to him by people who bought baby animals they no longer wanted once they started to grow, Hetrick said. "He really had more there than what he could do," Hetrick said. "I don't know what his deal was, but he was in over his head."

On Tuesday, Thompson, 62, threw open the cages at his animal preserve and committed suicide. His body was found near the empty cages with a bite on the head that appeared to have been inflicted by a big cat shortly after Thompson shot himself, Sheriff Matt Lutz said. It appeared his body had been dragged a short distance, Lutz said. Deputies killed 48 animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers, 17 lions and eight bears — in a hunt across the Ohio countryside that lasted nearly 24 hours. Only a monkey was still missing, and it was probably killed by one of the big cats, Lutz said. Thompson had run-ins with his neighbors and the law over escaped animals and conditions at his preserve. But whether he acted out of desperation or vengeance in setting the animals loose was unclear.
"I know how much he cared for them, and he would know that they would be killed," said Judy Hatfield, a family friend who visited the farm many times and said it wasn't unusual to have a monkey jump on her lap.

"I don't know what happened. I'm sure some horrible thing happened to him yesterday to make him do this or allow him to lose focus for a moment and do it. But I don't know what it is, and we may never know." The sheriff said Thompson's intentions were not part of the investigation. "To take your own life, Mr. Thompson was not in the right state of mind," Lutz said. "And to speculate on why he did this would be a belittlement, I guess, by me, to do that, and I'm not going to do that."

Thompson and his wife spent much of their time and money caring for their menagerie, neighbors said. Most of the big cats and bears were declawed and had been bottle-fed by the couple, Hatfield said. Thompson also kept them fed by picking up roadkill and collecting spoiled meat from grocery stores, said another neighbor, Fred Polk.
The sheriff said he spoke with Thompson's wife and that she was distraught over the loss of her husband and the animals. "You have to understand these animals were like kids to her," Lutz said. "She probably spent more time with these animals than some parents do spend with their kids."

Thompson's Muskingum County Animal Farm was not open to visitors, but he would occasionally take some of the smaller animals to nearby pet shows or nursing homes. He also provided a big cat for a photo shoot with supermodel Heidi Klum and appeared on the "Rachael Ray Show" in 2008 as an animal handler for a zoologist guest.
As for how he might have covered the costs of taking care of his animals, friends said he had a pilot's license and sometimes picked up extra cash flying people on his private plane. Neighbors also said he and his wife gave horse-riding lessons on their farm. The Vietnam veteran once owned a motorcycle shop, friends said. "When he came back from Vietnam, he was a little bit different. He was kind of a loner after he came back," said Polk, whose property is about 100 yards from Thompson's house. "He liked animals more than he did people. He really did."

Since 2004, Thompson had been charged by local authorities with cruelty to animals, allowing his animals to run free and improperly disposing of dead animals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also received two complaints about the farm in 2008 and 2009, involving such things as pens that might have been unsafe, animals that were too skinny and dead animals on the property, said Dave Sacks, a USDA spokesman. But the agency decided it had no authority to act. Federal officials said the government had no jurisdiction over the farm under either the Animal Welfare Act or the Endangered Species Act because the animals were held as private property and were not exhibited or being used for other commercial purposes.
Oct 21, 2011. County animal control officials bait trap to catch alligator
Creature reportedly seen on Birdsdale Avenue
Gresham officials hope a heavily baited trap is enough to catch an alligator reported near a local stormwater collection pond on Friday, Oct. 21.

A business tenant near the pond in a wetland area in the 2200 block of Northwest Birdsdale Avenue south of Burnside Road, told Oregon Fish & Wildlife officials that he saw the 4- to 5-foot-longcreature, said Laura Shepard, Gresham spokeswoman.

Multnomah County Animal Services responded by setting a trap in the stormwater pond, which acts as a basin to hold rainwater from the surrounding area.

City officials “haven’t positively identified it,” but suspect the creature is either an alligator or aCaiman, Shepard said. Caimans are a smaller, less-dangerous-to-human alligator native of Mexico and Central and South America.

Considering that neither one is native to the Northwest, “We suspect that someone has dumped a pet, and it could be hungry,” Shepard said.

Multnomah County Animal Services officers are monitoring the live trap they set Friday.

“We are checking the trap regularly and will keep doing so throughout the weekend,” said Chuck Poetz, animal services chief field supervisor. “We want to catch the animal as soon as possible for its own safety, and as safely as possible for our own officers.”

Based on animal services’ consultations with reptile experts, it’s believed the alligator could live on its own for another two or three months depending on the animal’s body fat. Animal services officers fear that colder temperatures could hurt the animal.

Anyone experiencing a similar sighting is encouraged to call Multnomah County Animal Control, 503-988-7387 (PETS).